Knee pain is a common reason for people to stop exercising, particularly running. I recently hosted a Guest Blog by Alexandra Merisoiu who uses natural movement techniques to help people run with a healthy technique and reduce injuries. It was a very popular post and I had lots of feedback about how interesting it was. Helping people to overcome their barriers and keep active is my passion and this Active Women Interview Series has been a brilliant forum to share stories of some of the amazing women who are doing just that.  
As a follow up to Alexandra’s blog, Della Skeates came forward to share her journey from injured runner to smashing her goals using the natural movement techniques.

Hello Della. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My husband and I run our own printing business, working long hours, leaving little time for me! I have two children, now in their earlies twenties. I turned fifty earlier this year.

When did you decide to start exercising regularly and why was that?

Exercise has always featured in my adult life, not at a competitive level but at a keeping fit level. When my children were growing up this was limited to running as finding an odd twenty minutes for a quick run was just about manageable. So, I’m not new to exercise, just to a method of exercise called natural movement which has helped me so much. If I had a ‘natural’ sport it would be swimming but I find regular swimming unbelievable boring!

What activities have you tried and what’s your favourite?

You name it (if doesn’t involve a ball) I’ve tried it, aerobics, pilates, yoga, bootcamp to name a few. Natural movement comes at the top of the list by a million miles.

What has been the biggest barrier you’ve had to overcome in your fitness journey?

I sustained a bad knee injury which has caused me problems on and off (mostly on) for 16 years. This prevented me from running and despite trying other forms of exercise I lacked motivation. I saw Alexandra advertising locally and particularly talking about her success with knee rehabilitation. I decided I had nothing to lose and her early morning sessions fitted perfectly into my lifestyle as it meant I could do my session before work.

Have you had any negative comments and how have you dealt with them?

The negative comments have generally come from physios, osteopaths and doctors over the years telling me I would never be able to run again but I always thought I could prove them wrong. Despite trying many times, it seemed they were right until I began natural movement.

What goals have you set and have you reached any of them yet?

After finding Alexandra I asked her if she thought she would be able to help me get back to running. She asked me what would be my absolute goal – to run 10k in about an hour by the time I am fifty. The challenge was set and our work began. I had only ever (pre injury) run 10k a few times and never under an hour.
I fell in love with the natural movement class from the first session even though it was dark, in the woods and it was cold. Her way of teaching was so refreshing. Learning about how my body worked and why we were doing certain exercises was all new to me even after all the years with different teachers, exercises, personal trainers etc. I was like a sponge and quickly increased my once a week session to two.
Not only did I achieve my 10k in an hour my knee pain is almost non existent now with the new running technique I have learnt.
My posture is also hugely improved and my upper body strength is impressive (even if I say so myself). As a child and teenager, I could never do monkey bars and once we started ‘hanging from trees’ I added another goal – to the monkey bars in my local park. In next to no time at all I was able to do them, much to the shock of my family.

What benefits has being active brought you?

Having always been active the benefits were more down to the different kind of active! In addition to my fitness and strength my energy level increased to a level I hadn’t experienced since I was in my twenties (maybe the Vitamin D from being outdoors). The unexpected benefit was that my stress levels came down hugely.

What advice would you give to other women who want to start exercising?

Outdoor exercising is the way to go, get out of the gym or the sports hall and into the open air. Appreciate the seasons and the feel good factor. Anything is possible (cliché I know) and small changes make huge differences. For me exercising early in the morning sets you up for the day and you are less likely to find an excuse at 6.30am than at 7pm. My body shape has changed so much and never thought I’d be saying at fifty that I’m proud to be in a bikini!

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